Expeditions and Discoveries Sponsored Exploration and Scientific Discovery in the Modern Age

Harvard Expedition to Samaria, 1908–1910

Harvard’s Committee on Exploration in the Orient designated the American archaeologist George A. Reisner to direct the University’s expedition to Samaria. With sponsorship from Jacob H. Schiff, the expedition was intended to excavate the site of Samaria (Sebaste), which was the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Israel.

Reisner located remains of the royal palace built by Omri and Ahab during the Israelite period, as well as remnants of buildings constructed during later periods of occupation by Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans. Noteworthy among the artifacts found were ostraca, or pottery fragments, depicting Hebrew-character inscriptions in carbon ink of Biblical names and memoranda of commercial shipments.

Selected Manuscripts and Records in Expeditions and Discoveries



The following sources were used in writing this page.

  • Harvard University. Reports of the President and the Treasurer of Harvard College, 1903–04. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University, 1905.
  • Lyon, David Gordon. "Recent Excavations in Palestine." Harvard Theological Review , 1:1 (1908) 70–96.
  • Reisner, George A. "The Harvard Expedition to Samaria Excavations: Excavations of 1909." Harvard Theological Review , 3:2 (1910) 248–263.
  • Stern, Ephraim, Ed. The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society & Carta, 1993– .
  • Tappy, Ron E. The Archaeology of Israelite Samaria. Atlanta, Ga.: Scholars Press, 1992.